Since April 1955, when Bill Smith first acquired the tiny island in the middle of Island Lake north of Shelton, the parcel had no name. Now it does.
The island, which spans just a tenth of an acre and has been threatened by erosion, is now named Smith Island. The state Board of Natural Resources approved the proposal during a December monthly meeting.
Upon his death in December 2011, Smith donated the island to the Island Lake Foundation for continued public use while the island was restored. Smith was a long-time resident of Mason County, where he worked as a local electrical contractor.
The proposed name was put forth by Shelton resident and attorney Stephen Whitehouse and was passed through by a State Committee on Geographic Names this past June. The Mason County Board of Commissioners was one of the proponents of the name change.
The Island Lake Foundation is a big name for a group of four Island Lake residents — Jef Conklin, Jim Sawyer, Max Folsom and Whitehouse — who organized to help preserve the island following the death of Smith.
“The island’s a great natural resource,” Whitehouse said. “Kids grew up there. A lot of people have memories of it. We wanted it to be there for future communities to use.”
As Smith aged, he asked for the island to be named after him. State law requires a five-year wait period following death before a place can be named for a person.
To honor Smith’s request, the foundation was formed. Whitehouse said contributions, both money and resources, came in from area residents and organizations over the five years to help keep the eroding island intact and create habitat.
Even Taylor Shellfish Farms pitched in, donating a barge that transported gravel, logs and plants that were put around the island to replace what had washed away.